The rollercoaster of 2020 tech news has produced one more unexpected turn: the rumoured OnePlus Watch won’t be powered by Google’s Wear OS.
The news comes from reliable OnePlus leaker Max Jambor, who tweeted this weekend that the new wearable won’t carry Google’s software. Jambor later confirmed to 9To5Google that it won’t even use a skinned or modified version of Wear OS.
If accurate, OnePlus is headed in an entirely new direction for its first smartwatch. There’s good reason or this, too. Not only is there plenty of space for a competing wearable OS (in a way there isn’t for a new smartphone OS), it also means OnePlus can have the freedom to build the watch experience from the ground up, without being constrained by Google’s struggling platform.
The features offered by Samsung’s Tizen-powered Galaxy Watch 3 and Apple’s Watch OS-powered Apple Watch far outstrip what’s on offer from Android-based wearables. Features like fall detection, comprehensive and in-depth health and fitness monitoring and extreme stuff – like blood oxygen sensors – aren’t widely available on Wear OS devices, if at all. I remain sceptical about how much a smartwatch can or should do, but the simple reality is that Apple and Samsung are pushing the industry forward and offering value for money based solely on an endless roll-call of new features.
The question is: which way will the OnePlus Watch go? The closely-aligned Oppo Watch is a high-end Android wearable that *ahem* borrowed some design inspiration from the Apple Watch. Whereas OnePlus products in 2020 have leaned toward being affordable instead of expensive powerhouses. The Chinese company’s other wearable, the OnePlus Buds, undercut rivals headphones from Google, Samsung and Apple.
I suspect the new watch will follow OnePlus’ recent switch to cheaper products and dramatically undercut the competition. Especially in light of the current difficult economic circumstances. That might mean the device doesn’t pack high-end features like an ECG test or blood oxygen monitoring. But the move to using its own OS means we’ll almost certainly…